Copy of: MRC
Alert: What 60 Minutes Will Show; Clinton Hammered Last Fall?
Minutes insists good taste prevents it from saying what Clinton requested
of Paula Jones, but the program will show bare breasts.
Andrea Mitchell claims that NBC was "hammering" Clinton on
fundraising before the election. Not true.
the Late Show with David Letterman: "Top Ten Ways President Clinton's
Injury Has Changed His Life."
March MediaWatch study: TV Fundraising Coverage in February Skips Major
Two CyberAlert recipients made some interesting observations about
Sunday's generally favorable 60 Minutes story on Paula Jones.
First, the March
17 CyberAlert noted that Ed Bradley refused to tell viewers what Jones
says Clinton requested in the hotel room. He reported only: "What she
says happened next, and what she says caused her to leave the room, is
spelled out graphically in her lawsuit. As a matter of taste we opted not
to include it."
Bradley may be
uncomfortable with saying that Clinton requested oral sex, but this is a
new concern for wholesomeness for the show. An October 22, 1995 profile of
Julie Andrews by Mike Wallace included a brief clip of Andrews exposing
her breasts in the 1981 movie S.O.B.
presented trooper Danny Ferguson's recollections of what happened and let
Ferguson say Jones is lying about what happened. But, Bradley failed to
note that Furguson is named in Jones' lawsuit.
Appearing on CNBC's Equal Time on March 13 NBC News reporter Andrea
Mitchell insisted that the fundraising issue was well covered before the
election, denied liberal bias exists, claimed reporters are
"tougher" on those they favor and said there's one poll she
doesn't believe -- the one which found virtually every Washington reporter
voted for Clinton-Gore.
MRC news analyst
Geoffrey Dickens transcribed a few of her more colorful claims. Reacting
to a comment from co-host Bay Buchanan, Mitchell asserted:
"Let me just jump in on one thing. I do think Bay that in fairness
there was a lot of coverage of this campaign finance issue. I was
participating in that myself. The Asian connection. All of that began in
October when we first started getting an inkling of it. Yes we weren't on
top of it earlier in the year when we should have been but you can see the
decline in what had been expected to be a landslide for Bill Clinton. His
numbers really dropped in October because we were hammering the White
House on it. So we weren't shy about doing it in the closing weeks of the
Check: "Hammering the White House"?
A check of the
MRC's Media Tracking System database found that NBC Nightly News aired a
grand total of three stories by Mitchell before the election on
fundraising. The first aired on October 21, two weeks before the vote.
That story contained the entirety of what NBC Nightly News devoted
pre-election to the Gore at the Buddhist monastery story: two sentences at
the end of her piece.
the White House" does not quite describe NBC's approach on October 29
when they blamed both campaigns equally. Tom Brokaw opened Nightly News:
"If this campaign has an unofficial motto, it is this: 'Wake me when
it's over.' But, beyond the tedium of the day to day campaigning, there's
another much more alarming development this year -- money. Huge amounts of
money pouring into both parties, raising very serious questions about
influence and conflict of interest."
That led into story from Andrea Mitchell in which she asserted: "Of
course Republicans, including Bob Dole and Jesse Helms, have also tapped
into foreign fundraising. And none of these investigations will produce
answers until months, or years, after election day."
Later, on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, NBC reporter Jim
Miklaszewski offered a nice spin that had the Clinton campaign
"admitting" the Republican are just a bad: "On campaign
finance, White House officials admit that both sides are dirty. The best
defense: Republicans do it too."
This isn't the
first time Mitchell has mischaracterized NBC coverage. On the January 4
Larry King Weekend she maintained that "the selling of the Lincoln
Bedroom" was a big story because it "resonates with the American
people." At that point NBC Nightly News had yet to tell viewers about
the story which broke three weeks earlier in The Washington Post.
Back to last
Thursday's Equal Time. Later in the show Mitchell and Bay Buchanan debated
Andrea Mitchell: "I don't accept the notion of the liberal bias. I
really don't Bay. I think if anything there is a sort of contrarian bias
if there is a bias or a tendency it's to always look for what is
controversial and look for the negative rather than looking for what is
actually going well in this society."
Bay Buchanan, referring to the Freedom Forum's poll that found 89 percent
of Washington reporters voted for Clinton in 1992: "Well let me ask
you, Andrea. Isn't there a certain human nature with 90, 89 percent of
those in the media voting for Bill Clinton don't you think there's a human
nature that you're gonna be leaning into that kind of agenda that he would
Andrea Mitchell: "I don't accept that statistic first. And secondly I
don't think that that's human nature. I think that in fact we bend over
backwards as a group to be, you know, tougher on people that we might
think that we'd favor. But I don't accept the fact because among the
reporters I know I don't find a whole lot that's favorable to Bill
Well, I'll take
this opportunity to note that NBC Nightly News has yet to run a story on
the Chinese/Long Beach port controversy. See item #4 below for details on
how all the networks failed to report throughout February numerous
"Top Ten Ways President Clinton's Injury Has Changed His Life,"
from the March 17 Late Show with David Letterman. Copyrighted by Worldwide
10. Now sexually
harassing nurses instead of secretaries.
9. Has to take
his daily gallon of gravy intravenously.
dignitaries now asked to lend a hand during President's sponge bath.
7. Has to
remember to lock wheels on wheelchair before getting a lap dance.
6. While doped up
on painkillers, called Peter Jennings a "fruity Canadian
5. Had to
postpone his three-day "summit" with the Spice Girls.
4. Gets big
laughs by calling his leg "as useless as Al Gore."
accepting large donations from Indonesian businessmen, asks them to sign
2. New pickup
line: "How'd you like a ride on Wheelchair One?"
1. Two words:
Here's the full text of the March MediaWatch study, put together and
written by MediaWatch Associate Editor Tim Graham based upon the daily
database entries completed by analysts Clay Waters, Steve Kaminski, Gene
Eliasen, Geoffrey Dickens and Jim Forbes.
Coverage in February Skips Major Developments that Might Not
From the March 1997 MediaWatch
Coverage in February Skips Major Developments that Might Not
Lincoln Bedroom Angle
reporter Bob Woodward broke the story March 2 of
"solicitor-in-chief" Al Gore dialing for dollars in the White
House. It drew major coverage -- but not from all. That evening's ABC
World News Sunday, as well as the next morning's Today show on NBC,
completely ignored Woodward. This illustrates the pattern of reporting on
the DNC fundraising scandal. Newspaper scoops emerge nearly every day, but
many were overlooked by one network, or all of them. Anyone watching only
one network missed key parts of the emerging story.
analysts reviewed all February fundraising scandal stories on the evening
shows of ABC, CBS, CNN (The World Today), and NBC, as well as the morning
shows of ABC, CBS, and NBC. The February 25 discovery of Bill Clinton
ordering the invitation of major donors to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom
caused a major increase in intensity: the networks aired as many stories
in the last four days of February as they had in the first 24. The gritty
complexities of election law were, for the networks, much less attractive
than a sexy angle expected to "resonate" with viewers.
On the evening
shows, the networks aired 50 full reports and 13 anchor briefs, but 25 of
the reports and three of the briefs came in the last four days. The eight
network shows that led with the fundraising story were all in the last
four days. For a majority of days in February, ABC (16 days), CBS (18
days), and NBC (19 days) aired no story on the fundraising beat. Even CNN
had 12 days with no fundraising story.
The morning shows
did less: 18 full reports, 11 interview segments, and 19 anchor briefs.
Again, almost half of the coverage -- eight full reports, five interviews,
and 11 anchor briefs -- came after the Lincoln Bedroom story broke. Six
morning shows led with the Lincoln Bedroom story, but only two shows led
off with the fundraising story in the previous 25 days. Not counting the
absence of Saturday morning shows on ABC and CBS, ABC (on 15 days), CBS
(16 days) and NBC (19 days) aired nothing new on the fundraising story. A
look at daily scoops shows spotty network interest:
6: The Boston
Globe reported "President Clinton renewed controversial aid
flights to Cuba last October on the same day a campaign donor pressed
President Clinton to resume the flights and offered to arrange a $5
million contribution to the President's campaign." ABC's World
News Tonight noted top aide Harold Ickes' memo to the donor, but only
CBS aired the Cuba angle.
7: The Globe reported
Arnold Hiatt, the DNC's largest individual donor, gave $500,000 to
Democratic Party after discussing suggestions with Ickes about how to
donate the money. The Los Angeles Times reported that of the four
Asian businessmen Clinton dined with at a July 30 meeting which
eventually raised $500,000, two could not legally donate to U.S.
campaigns. A front-page USA Today story reported internal White House
documents showed the White House Office Data Base was used for
political purposes from its inception in 1994. The Wall Street Journal
recounted the payoff for two Boston businessmen who attended a White
House coffee, getting an exclusive energy efficiency loan program from
the Department of Housing and Urban Development. None got any
Clinton's claims about coffees, spokesman Mike McCurry said: "I
think the President would have wondered why he was doing all those
coffees if he hadn't had some follow-up." Only CNN's Wolf Blitzer
noted the contradiction.
16: The Washington
Post reported that following a Hillary Clinton visit to Guam in
September 1996, island residents raised $900,000 for the Democrats and
in December, a Clinton official circulated a report backing a bill
allowing Guam to control its immigration and labor laws. On Meet the
Press, Rep. Dan Burton announced 20 additional subpoenas on Chinese
interest in the U.S. elections. Liberal New York Post columnist Jack
Newfield quoted a Clinton adviser claiming Clinton's "incredibly
intense" demands for fundraising "caused people to start
cutting corners." The Guam story was mentioned only on ABC's
World News Sunday and NBC's Today. Burton's subpoenas only aired on
CNN, CBSThis Morning and Today. Newfield's article came up on NBC's
Meet the Press and ABC's This Week, but it made no other TV show.
19: In a front-page
story, USA Today's Tom Squiteri wrote: "Top finance officials in
the Democratic Party quietly decided last July to limit John Huang's
fundraising and to end appearances by President Clinton at
Asian-American events organized by Huang." Squiteri noted this
didn't match statements last fall that officials had no idea of
Huang's improprieties. Network coverage? Zero.
20: The Washington
Post reported that Asian-American business association chief Rawlein
Soberano was asked by Huang to funnel more than $250,000 through his
group for a kickback of $45,000. Inside, Bob Woodward reported a
twice-convicted felon who met with Clinton at a 1995 White House
coffee attended four subsequent DNC fundraisers with Clinton. The Wall
Street Journalshowed how a Miami businessman met twice with the
National Security Council's Latin America specialist to urge Clinton
to back Paraguay's President in a coup attempt. "The day the
unsuccessful coup attempt began," the DNC "received $100,000
from Mr. Jimenez." Only ABC's morning and evening shows mentioned
Soberano. (NBC got around to it March 3.) The other two stories:
skipped by all.
22: The New York
Times reported "The Manhattan District Attorney said yesterday he
had given federal prosecutors evidence that a Venezuelan banking
family might have illegally funneled campaign contributions to the
Democratic Party during the 1992 elections." Network coverage?
23: The Washington
Post reported DNC Chairman Don Fowler tried to routinely put large
donors in touch with the White House or cabinet officials to have
their needs met. Network coverage? Zero.
25: . The Los Angeles
Times reported that while the Clintons kept a public distance from
former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell, "a trusted
White House aide" Marsha Scott has acted as a "confidential
go-between," raising the question of White House attempts to keep
Hubbell from testifying fully. Network coverage? Nothing.
28: The Wall Street
Journal reported Clinton made angry calls at 1 a.m. to Democratic
leaders urging them to fight the naming of an independent counsel. CBS
and NBC evening shows mentioned it in passing. ABC and CNN did not.
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